Following intense scrutiny from the media over working conditions in its supply chain overseas, Apple has granted ABC Nightline anchor Bill Weir exclusive access to its Foxconn factories. In a special edition of Nightline that will air tomorrow night, Weir will tour the largest ‘iFactory’ in Shenzhen, China.
For years, Apple and Foxconn have been synonymous with monster profits and total secrecy so it was fascinating to wander the iphone and iPod production lines, meet the people who build them and see how they live. Our cameras were rolling when thousands of hopeful applicants rushed the Foxconn gates and I spoke with dozens of line workers and a top executive about everything from hours and pay to the controversies over suicides at the plant and the infamous “jumper nets” that line the factories in Shenzhen. After this trip, I’ll never see an Apple product the same way again,” said Weir.
ABC is owned by Disney. The CEO of Disney, Bob Iger, is currently a member of Apple’s Board of Directors. The Steve Jobs Trust is also Disney’s largest individual shareholder.
Here’s part of the report:
“Okay.” “Okay.” “Okay.”
The voices are robot feminine and they never shut up, each chirp a surreal announcement that another new iPad is about to be born.
“Okay.” “Okay.” “Okay.”
The factory floor is spotless under the bright fluorescent lights and with hypnotic rhythm, thousands of hands reach into a conveyor belt river, bringing each gliding gadget to life one tiny piece at a time.
A supervisor will bark the occasional order in Mandarin, but on this line the machines do most of the talking while the people work in silence.
Their faces are blank as they insert a chip or wipe a screen or plug in a diagnostic cable to hear that everything is “Okay.”
And they will repeat that motion and hear that fembot voice a few thousand more times before lunch.
It is just an average day at Foxconn.
This special edition of Nightline will air Tuesday, February 21 at 11:35 PM ET/PT on ABC.
Apple has started the largest factory audit in history with The Fair Labor Association. The report will be published within the next several weeks. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently affirmed that the company “takes working conditions very seriously” and that “we are very connected to worker conditions on a granular level.”Related